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Beware of Bush
I've met David Walters, if briefly, and I know he's a big guy who could have easily punched out that dude who grabbed his shoulder and implied he was Bin Laden's buddy ("Your Friend Bin Laden," June 16). But I guess he didn't cold-cock the guy, which shows he's a peaceful man. I suppose that's best. But still...

When looking for "links" to Bin Laden, perhaps it might be a good idea to look to George H.W. Bush, who was in business with the Carlyle Group with Osama Bin Laden's family for years. So, by the way, is Tony Blair. Didn't the current President himself get set up in business in Texas with Bin Laden family money? (Apparently that failed, and he had to milk the Arlington Texas taxpayers in a deal that looks very much like one George Shinn couldn't get here.)

My own belief is that the President's wickedness, Machiavellian strategems, and totalitarian evil might make Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini, look like pikers in comparison if the neoconazis have their way. I say beware.

-- Russ Newsom, Charlotte

The Asphalt Bungle
Once again David Walters hits the nail on the head ("Parking Is Such Sweet Sorrow," June 23). However, I'm afraid the picture is even gloomier than he depicts it.

In my bid to save the world I try to walk from my home to UNCC whenever I can. The journey is about two miles and takes me 30 minutes. At times I walk across asphalted parking spaces and at other times I walk between the trunks of mature oak trees. It never ceases to amaze me that as I step from asphalt to woods the temperature drops appreciably within the space of a few feet: blistering blacktop absorbs the heat and radiates it back at me while the tree canopy absorbs the fierce sun, uses it productively to photosynthesize and increase its height and girth, leaving me to dally in the cool shade below making the most of any small breeze that wafts my way.

By chopping down those trees to provide each suburbanite's 12 parking spaces we are inevitably driving up ambient temperatures. It's obvious, yet the US government has a problem understanding this.

-- Chris Grech, Charlotte

Not Up to Pughsley Alone
I read with great interest Tara Servatius' June 23 column in which Superintendent Jim Pughsley was taken to task ("Here's A Vision for You"). Her reference to the appallingly low test scores turned in by far too many students of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is reprehensible, I concur. It is her failure, however, to suggest or make recommendations as to how the situation may be ameliorated that I find irresponsible. I spent months serving as a substitute teacher in many elementary, middle, and high schools and experienced first hand the challenges teachers encounter daily with students. Challenges by their very nature necessitate a coming together of many who are genuinely concerned about these youth and the possible toll their lack of preparedness will take on them in particular and our communities in general.

I strongly encourage Tara to use her considerable writing talents to forge words that inspire readers to contemplate what they can do to assist Mr. Pughsley in making sure each child graduates from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools with many of the tools necessary to navigate life's turbulent corridors. Why not assist in getting the wider community to see this as their mission; one to be fulfilled or betrayed? The responsibility for preparing our children for life is too important to be left solely to Superintendent Pughsley.

-- Ahmad Daniels, Charlotte

Tara Servatius replies:

If you read through our archives, you'll see that we've dug deeply into the education process on a school-by-school basis, particularly focusing on where the best teachers teach, why they leave inner city schools, and why the most at-risk children experience fear on a daily basis at school. We have also suggested remedies -- and quoted experts who have suggested remedies. The system is doing nothing new this year of any significance to deal with these problems; it has instead ignored them. In addition to providing suggestions for improvement, highlighting how the system isn't working and its refusal to change, as I did in this column, is one of the most important parts of "assisting in getting the wider community to see this as their mission; one to be fulfilled or betrayed."

Experience Is Important
This response is an aside to a comment from Jimmy Chester of Mooresville ("Cotton's Views Could Spread AIDS," June 23). Cotton's view on women not jumping straight into marriage before you live life is not advocating wild, unprotected sex. It's simply stating that as a society, we get married way too young and far too inexperienced, which aids our wild, unprotected divorce rate.

The widespread AIDS crisis in South Africa is not due primarily to promiscuity or lifestyles; it's due to Africa being exploited by billion-dollar drug companies as the initial experimentation victims of a vaccine and a cure by America and other developed countries.

-- Tiffany Wright, Charlotte

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